What Can Brown Do for You? Getting Info from Stool Samples

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Did You Know?

The amount of stool needed to be sampled depends on the test that is ordered. Below are the guidelines for sample amounts needed for different tests:

  • Ova and parasite exam: size of a small bean or pea
  • Bacterial culture, stool fat testing, and stool (occult) blood: size of a walnut or 1-inch ball
  • 72-Hour stool fat: as much as possible within 72 hours

As funny as poop jokes can be to children, it's no laughing matter when they are asked to provide a stool sample. This can be very embarrassing for most children, and it’s important to acknowledge that when asking a child to comply.

{ MORE: The Colors of Newborn Poop }

Start by telling the child that you understand this may be uncomfortable and embarrassing for him or her, but that it is also very important in order to find out why [insert problem here] is happening.

The stool is tested for many conditions affecting the digestive tract, liver, and pancreas. The most common reason stool is checked is to determine if there is an infection present from bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Samples can also be checked for poor nutrients, cancer, food-borne illnesses, inflammation, and even certain allergies.

Other Reasons to Have a Stool Sample Checked

  • Identification of disease
  • Child has had prolonged diarrhea (typically more than 10 days)
  • Blood in stool
  • Complaints of abdominal pain and/or cramping
  • Extreme gas and/or bloating with or without fever
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
  • Traveled outside of U.S. recently
  • Eaten under-cooked meat, eggs, unpasteurized milk

How to Prepare for the Test

Some medications such as antibiotics, laxatives, antacids, and antidiarrheals can affect stool sample results, so it is important to inform your child's doctor of exact medications your child has taken recently.

Certain foods may affect samples when checking for blood in the stool as well. The doctor may advise your child to stop eating certain foods and taking certain medications up to weeks before giving a sample. Also, inform your healthcare provider if your child has had any X-rays that required barium contrast material, as this affects results as well.

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What Can Brown Do for You? Getting Info from Stool Samples

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